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Glass recycling resumes in Park City

By Patrick Parkinson

Green and clear glass is again being recycled in Park City.

Though Recycle Utah closed bins for the bottles for a few hours last week, to avert a recycling "crisis," officials convinced a Salt Lake firm Thursday to resume accepting the material.

Patrons were still disposing of brown bottles at the Park City nonprofit but without extra funding the center quit accepting green and clear glass after the bottom dropped out of Utah’s glass market. Owens Corning purchases the mixed-colored glass collected in Park City to make fiberglass, but when the company’s Salt Lake partner experienced a personnel shakeup, glass recycling stopped two months ago, Recycle Utah Executive Director Insa Riepen said.

"We were completely cut off from shipping our glass," Riepen said.

Recycle Utah was already paying about $20 a day to store seven containers of green and clear glass in Salt Lake when Owens Corning officials contacted her last week with news that mixed-colored glass could again be accepted, she said, adding that roughly two-thirds of the glass collected in Park City is green or clear.

Riepen was seeking a donor interested in providing Recycle Utah $30,000 per year to ship the glass out of state.

"I am happy to have it resolved because it remains local," she said.

Along with Summit County residents who regularly haul carloads of bottles to the Woodbine Way recycling center, several businesses that provide curbside pickup also use Recycle Utah.

Summit County recently hired County Curbside for nearly $150,000 per year to collect recyclables in Park City and South Summit. In 2005, Recycle Utah received $17,000 from Summit County. Park City provided the non-profit organization $9,577 in grants for rent and $14,750 in cash this year.

County Curbside co-owner Joe Kernan was confident that Owens Corning would again purchase glass from the Park City area.

"They’re planning on continuing," he told the Summit County Commission last week.

Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan says glass could be stored temporarily at the Three Mile Canyon landfill if Recycle Utah is cut off again.

"We’ve got ample room," Public Works Superintendent Mark Offret said.

Currently, Recycle Utah ships blue glass to a company in Cache County and beer manufacturers purchase some of Park City’s brown glass for reuse.

"I will not take material unless I can get it recycled," Riepen said, cautiously optimistic about the future of the Salt Lake glass smelter. "To have only one option is no longer acceptable."

There are markets for recycled glass to make various architectural and concrete products, and for use in constructing retaining walls and mixing construction aggregate, Riepen said.

"There are lots of uses," she said. "There’s room for more businesses than one in the state of Utah."

But Riepen praised Owens Corning for the company’s "good corporate citizenship."

"That’s the nature of recycling, there’s lots of little crises along the way," Callahan said. "The system you’re dealing with in terms of reusing materials isn’t as strong as the economy for new materials. It’s just tougher."


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